June 27, 2020 – The White House’s First Step Act has been kind to Chicago’s Gangster Disciples gang. President Donald Trump signed the act into effect in 2018 in an effort to provide sentencing reductions to non-violent drug offenders serving life.

Since last summer, three former high-ranking GDs have walked free.

In August 2019, William (Too Short) Edwards, who ran the city’s South Side, was released. Back in November, Johnny (Crusher) Jackson, Edwards’ youth recruiting coordinator and “junior boss,” came home. Just this spring, James (King) Yates got out of his life term courtesy of the First Step Act. Yates controlled the south suburbs for the GDs in the early 1990s.

They all worked for Larry Hoover, the legendary Gangster Disciple founder and Godfather, who has been in prison for the last 47 years. He is also seeking relief from the First Step Act, although he has a murder on his rap sheet, so he’s facing more of an uphill battle than the rest.

Hoover formed the Gangster Disciples in 1969 on the South Side of Chicago when he merged his Supreme Gangsters crew with David Barksdale’s Black Disciples gang. Barksdale died of kidney failure in the 1970s. The 69-year old Hoover is alleged to run the GD Nation from behind bars, holding the final say in activities now spanning tens of thousands of soldiers and maintaining an imprint in multiple states around the country.

Too Short Edwards, 49, Crusher Jackson, 47 and King Yates, 51, were all ensnared alongside Hoover in 1995’s Operation Headache case where the feds dismantled Hoover’s GD hierarchy in a sweeping bust. Knowing that Hoover held court in the visiting room of an Illinois state penitentiary, taking meetings with his top men who would shuttle back and forth from Chicago relaying messages, the FBI placed recording devices inside visitor badges. Edwards discovered the bugged-badge trick on a trip to the restroom at the Vienna Correctional Institute in Vienna, Illinois. when he noticed a wire popping out of his badge in the window as he washed his hands.

Yates fired his attorney mid-trial in 1997 and took over his own defense, a decision he admitted was unwise in a recent interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. Under cross examination, he told jurors that the drug ledgers found in his possession were in fact physical fitness logs. At the time of his August 1995 bust, Yates had been demoted from his position for getting into a public altercation with another gang member in front of the member’s wife and children.

Rapper Kanye West and his reality-tv queen wife Kim Kardashian aggressively lobbied President Trump for him to get behind the First Step Act. Both visited the White House to campaign for the bill. West is from Chicago’s South Side.

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